Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas tidings

We’re piggybacking this Ogle family update on my blog because it’s a convenient and familiar place, and because the posts you’ll find below describe my year in detail. This saves having to plow that ground again. Fortunately, 2008 is ending better than it started. In fact, I’d venture to say we’ve never been closer as a family. That’s quite a claim given all the water that’s passed under our bridge the past 20 years or so. If this is what comes of hard times, then it’s one medical side-effect we’ll gratefully accept.

First, a quick health update: I’m feeling well and am back to writing and teaching. My recovery from the interferon therapy is essentially complete. I’m running again, and hope to enter a half-marathon or two in the spring. Ellen is regaining strength after her back surgeries—two lumbar discectomies in September—but has to pace herself and takes lying down on the job very seriously (to rest her back). She’s capitalized on her downtime by devouring mountains of books, polishing her Facebook persona, and playing online Scrabble. She’s teaching and coordinating classes at Acorn Outreach again, and advocating on behalf of Latino clients and friends.

Nick and Allie are both happily ensconced at George Fox University near Portland. Allie is a scholar, a poet, a sociologist, an explorer of the infinite abyss (title of her blog), and a "Nica chica ." She spent eight weeks last spring in Granada, Nicaragua, volunteering with a nonprofit women’s organization and falling in love with a rich culture in a poor land. She’s become fluent in Spanish, and teaches in the language lab at Fox. There will be a major celebration (or two) with friends and family when she turns 21 later this month. I guess that makes official her status as an adult, although she’ll always be Daddy’s girl.

Nick graduated as a class valedictorian last spring, and has moved on to new challenges at college. In a freshman engineering class he designed, modeled and machined a compressed-air engine (a "wobbler"), for which he was commended by his prof (see video). He’s also been reading subversive literature—Kierkegaard, Wendell Berry, and Shane Claiborne (among others)—and intends to minor in philosophy. Nick goes to Salem most Fridays with other Fox students to serve dinner and hang out with a group of homeless men. He’s discovering things about himself and about the world that hearten—and sometimes amaze—his parents. A philosophizing, guitar-playing mechanical engineer. Who knew?

It’s great having the kids within a short drive of home. When we needed Allie here last spring, she was able to buzz down from Newberg on short notice. We were up there on Sunday to worship at the Friends church that she and Nick attend. Both kids have heeded the siren call of Portland, where Nick will be doing inner- city street ministry for a week after Christmas. Allie is heading to L.A. to visit a girlfriend she met in Nicaragua. I’ll spend time over the holidays preparing to teach good old-fashioned journalism to the postmodern Facebook generation. Ellen will run a reduced schedule at Acorn.

In different ways, each of us has been challenged this year to search for answers to big questions, to submit to mystery, and to embrace what we know to be true. It’s been hard at times. We’ve shed tears, and fallen to our knees in prayer. We’ve also hugged, spoken to each other in music and in our quiet presence, and celebrated victories together. Life is so much more intensely real—and good—when you accept that it’s also brief and unavoidably ragged at the edges. Its raw unpredictability is what makes the times of peace and consolation we have with others so precious. It also makes God’s incarnation—his taking on of human flesh—that much more miraculous. He risked it all to be here with us. This Christmas, may the miracle of life itself take your breath away and leave you in awe of the author and creator of all things.

Ellen, Peter, Allie and Nick

P.S. We’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.


Anonymous said...

A blessed merry Christmas to all you Ogles. I think I've come to know and appreciate each of you this past year. Thanks for (to use a cliche that is full of meaning) sharing your journey with the rest of us.
Karen B.

wags said...

It was a good year and a bad year for you, but all things considered it was certainly a meaningful year and one of growth in many ways. I think we've all grown by reading your blog and following your life. Thanks for giving us that opportunity. Merry Christmas and hope to see you all this summer. Tell Nick and Allie we'll expect a few games of spoons.
Steve (and Michelle and Hannah)

Anonymous said...

May the Lord, whose incarnation we are about to celebrate, fill the Ogle family with his richest blessings. Thanks for sharing your heart so eloquently Peter. Merry Christmas, Jane Salter

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your beautiful Christmas greeting blog. I am touched and encouraged by it and by your lives.
Blessing and joy to you.
David Harris

Anonymous said...

Your kids' passion for service to others and for wisdom reflect qualities the rest of us say in you from the beginning. It's inspiring to me to see God what so powerfully through your family's adversities and triumphs in 08, because your example will help me through what looks like a difficult year in 09.

Sheri said...

Peter, you have and always will be one of the best writers I have ever met! You pull the reader in leaving them wanting more. Thank you for sharing as always.

Jeff Jimerson said...

Peter and Ellen: Thanks so much for the Christmas greetings. You have a beautiful family, and you're both an inspiration. God bless you in the new year, and merry Christmas.

KJ said...


Thank you for sharing your 2008 with us. I have always enjoyed our friendship and admire your individual, and your family's, accomplishments.

God bless all of you.

Ken Johnson

Marsha said...

His blessings to you all this Christmas. We love you, too!

Anonymous said...

Peter/Ellen: That was a very nice Christmas letter after a very difficult year for you all. I'm alwasy impressed by your good humour and positive outlook.
Congratulate both Nick and Allie on their respective acheivements.